PLM vs. Zombies

When life imitates art, and life alternates between tragedy and farce, be careful with your fantasies. That was more or less what I thought while watching World War Z back in 2013 as an entertainment, and then when observing the news about a real life nightmare happening in Israel on Oct 7th, 2023.

Regular Zombie-themed movies are either totally phantasmagorical or entirely localized. WWZ was different: it created an almost augmented reality effect when it showed familiar streets of Philadelphia and Jerusalem being overrun by an infinite stream of fast-moving blood-thirsty creatures.

Zombies are low-tech. They fight by moving and biting faster than they can be properly and safely disabled, and their “conversion” ability compensates their losses and even increases their ranks.

Sounds a lot like Hamas.

Back in 2013 I couldn’t but notice a few awkward moments:

  • The main protagonist worked for the UN, portrayed as a transcending force of knowledge, wisdom and justice. Credo quia absurdum.
  • I was expecting to see more meat-grinders like tanks and armored vehicles helping to stop the onslaught.
  • Western countries’ failure to follow North Korean simple yet overwhelmingly effective dental procedure because of their democratic principles seemed simultaneously quite moronic and (unfortunately) realistic.
  • Israel is known for its slight paranoia, and for its layered approach to any security problem. So, when watching the movie, I was surprised not to see a second barrier, or generally any strategy for the next worst case scenario. October 7th events demonstrated the point: had Hamas consisted of WWZ-style zombies, the attack would indeed be the end of Israel, because no natural obstacles existed beyond the main defensive line.

The main “happy-end” question of the movie: how exactly were the good guys going to distribute that magic substance in sufficient numbers? After all, it was just a lab, not an industrial facility. The supply chain behind the pharma industry would be unreachable. The same would be true for almost any industry in every country – except, perhaps, for North Korea.

For a long time the substance and everything else would be produced in a well-barricaded enclave, from locally sourced materials, on locally sourced, operated and maintained equipment, with locally generated electric power. And… using locally connectable software.

Ironically, the letter “Z” became a symbol of the Russian invasion of Ukraine right after the COVID pandemic: almost like a medical diagnosis of Russia being infected with a brain “Z” virus. The Hamas-made short films from October 7 gave the Hollywood horror industry a run for its money. The persistent outbursts of Hamas support around the world are drawing a direct parallel with the “zombie conversion” mechanism at work.

Let’s face it: World War Z has already started, without anyone noticing. The civilized world is fighting the zombies of Russia, Hamas, and others, who are trying to convert everyone into their breed. Pandemics, wars, natural and industrial disasters have become the new normal.

In this strange new world, businesses that do not plan appropriately and act decisively will simply be eaten. Building proper enclaves with proper defenses will be key to business survival.

How to do this?

Here are a few notes from the Senticore WWZ Survival Playbook (R):

  • Building and maintaining the right requirements, and making them less dependent on particular people will be as critical as ever. That’s why formalizing the requirements process via SysML will be a major nudge towards a resilient enterprise.
  • The full “digital mesh” operations available via platforms like 3DExperience will definitely make disparate (and desperate) collaboration both possible and highly efficient. Yet, being wary of any single point of failure, I would suggest having your own data center storing your engineering data in an industry-standard format like STEP or JT.
  • In the same tune, having your applications cloud-agnostic will ensure continuity if things ever go to a full-blown project Mayhem.
  • Complete isolation of the enclave’s IT infrastructure from the outside world, coupled with the air-gapped friendly DevOps tools like Zarf and Delphix, as well as implementing zero-trust security may be extremely helpful in a highly contested environment.
  • Knowledge required to operate many existing systems becomes especially precious when team members can be eaten at any moment. That’s why generative AI based assistants trained on existing data and best practices can become invaluable.
  • The process of disentangling from potentially adversarial or unstable supply chain regions and players has already begun. Regular supply chain monitoring, stress-testing to ensure stability, and creating quick adaptation protocols are key to continuity.
  • Engineering design must evolve in favor of ease of manufacturing and maintainability, even if at the cost of sometimes reduced performance. Perhaps an AI-based CAD plug-in for real-time assessment of design, materials and/or components can be really helpful.

At the time of this writing, there are a lot of good folks in Israel and Ukraine dealing with the zombie outbreak directly. The West is rightfully supporting them. We at Senticore are helping this effort by making the Western industry more resilient and efficient. Talk to us about WWZ age engineering and manufacturing survival strategies!